Step Away From the Contest: Taking Social From Good to Great

AloWe’ve all been there. You’re trying to build engagement for your client’s social media community and you’re floating ideas around, circling a few good ones, and then there it is – seeming like the most logical thing in the world – the contest/sweepstakes. Let me just say it now, step away from the contest!

Now let me back up for a moment. I’m not saying to NEVER host a contest/sweepstakes. Sometimes product interaction really is the end goal and a well-executed contest can be just the impetus for trial that we need. But ask yourself, “Are we doing this because it perfectly aligns with our strategy and the ROI is going to be off the charts? Or, is this a tactic I feel comfortable with?” If the answer to the latter is yes, step away from the contest.

When we look at best-in-class consumer brands for inspiration, we are seeing an increasing trend away from traditional prizing online for a few reasons. Primarily because the more savvy audience is becoming less and less likely to participate – it’s phasing out of natural behavior. Secondly, giving away product is rarely good for the bottom line. There is no study proving a direct (or dotted line) to sales after someone enters to win something for free. In fact, it’s more likely that if they could have gotten it for free, they won’t see the value in purchasing with their own cold, hard cash.

So what are some other options? Really, there are infinite answers. And, personally, I’m always a fan of the one I’ve never heard before.

Ultimately, you want to bring ideas to your clients that they haven’t heard before – ideas that ladder back up to the overarching strategy, specific business goals and hit all of the KPIs. So how can you do that?

  1. Use all your resources: your team, the client, folks who fall into your target demo, third party research, etc. You have a lot of resources at your fingertips these days. Creativity is not any one person’s job – it’s everyone’s job.
  2. Lead with research: you know lots of things about lots of things, but getting a firm grasp on the most current landscape really helps. It helps with ideation, but it also helps with “the sell” (see below).
  3. Throw out the “first idea”: those are the obvious ones. The ones that you’ve probably seen or done before.
  4. Get outside opinions: once you land on something, ask someone in the target demo their opinion.
  5. Practice the sell: how you sell in your idea to the client is almost as important as the idea itself. If you are unsure or hesitant, they will be too. Go in with gusto and facts on your side!

It’s not about dragging a client somewhere they’re not comfortable. It’s really about gently leading them to a place that is going to make them really happy and satisfied. They may not end up going with the “big idea,” but no one ever won a race they didn’t enter.

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